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Christos Nicola, FR’04

Christos Nicola has been actively engaged in exploration since the 1970s, when he began scuba diving in the caves of central Florida and probing shipwrecks off North Carolina. Ultimately, caving would become his primary focus and passion. He has participated, organized, and/or led more than 40 caving expeditions in the Americas, Oceana, Africa, Caribbean, and Europe.

Most recently, Nicola’s work has focused on the Priest’s grotto, a cave in Ukraine that sheltered 38 Jews for more than a year during the Holocaust. Nicola first heard rumors of their miraculous survival two decades ago. Following up on the story, he located 14 of the original 38 cave dwellers and has co-authored a book, The Secret of Priest’s Grotto and brought about the making of a documentary, No Place On Earth about their experiences. Nicola has since launched the Priest’s Grotto Heritage Project, a genocide awareness campaign in which the grandchildren of those who lived in Priest’s Grotto Cave are working hand-in-hand with the grandchildren of those who lived above the cave in building an exhibit to honor what those courageous survivors so long ago. Further details on the Priest’s Grotto Heritage Project can be found at

When he is not caving, Nicola works as a Senior Investigator for New York State. As a graduate of three state police academies and recipient of specialized training from the FBI and NYPD, his law enforcement career has spanned three decades. He conducted two years of ethnographic research while living among various motorcycle gangs. He has earned undergraduate degrees in criminal justice, physics, and forensic psychology; an MA in criminology; and completed post-graduate work toward a Ph.D. in criminology. He is currently pursuing an MS in forensic science and a BA in filmmaking.

Photo credit:
Photo by Steven Duncan
Copyright Chris Nicola 2005

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste